Thursday, May 20, 2010

Affirming Aphorisms

Here's the first "truth" statement/parable/ideological b.s. applied to bikes:

"If you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. If you TEACH a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime."

I muttered this BS repeatedly as I tried to swap all the Dura Ace 7800 parts from my old frame to my new one.  I've always wanted be a self-reliant bike maintainer, so trial and error seemed like a good way to learn.

But while a man is learning how to catch a fish, he just might starve to death.

I spent 3 hours on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday working on the damn bike. I got everything off the old frame pretty easily, and I did a good job of washing and lubing all the parts. But figuring out how to remove the old rear derailleur cable cost me 2 hours, and trying to tune that rear derailleur was a clusterf*ck of the first magnitude.

The guys at Trek Store Papillion were busy tuning bikes in the shop's queue, but they managed to provide some good advice on cutting and wrapping the handlebar tape. Still, they were swamped, and I didn't want to take up the shop's paid labor time on my personal bike. So I managed to get everything installed, lubed, and greased, and then I drove the bike to our other store in Midtown and begged them for some tuning device.

I know how to turn a barrel adjuster. I know the theory behind the limit screws. I can remove a cassette, clean it, and reinstall it. I can clean and lube the pivot points on a derailleur. But setting the cable tension just baffles me.

With patient work from Bryan, Chris, and Jake, the rear derailleur stopped skipping gears and refusing to shift onto the 11 or 23-tooth cogs. But the job took an hour of frustrated fiddling becasue I screwed up THIS:
See the little square tab that seems to be clasping the cable? That piece helps secure the cable to the derailleur. If that little bastard doesn't face the rear of the derailleur, the damn thing will NEVER shift properly--even after three good mechanics try to adjust it. Chris, a secret Zen Master if I ever met one, finally diagnosed the problem. It was so hard to find becasue they all assumed that a competent mechanic had hung the derailleur and attached the cable. Uhh, no.  

Incompetent might be the biggest understatement of the year so far. I had set the tab facing inward. Major suckage on my part, and it cost these guys a cumulative hour of their lives to fix my error.

I did manage to hang the front derailleur correctly, so that adjustment was pretty quick. Zenmaster Chris and his Furious Four also tweaked my headset, patted me on the head, and sent me on my way. I missed Wednesday Night Worlds becasue the bike only became operational at 5:45.

Eight hours of labor to build one bike. The cumulative advice of FIVE mechanics. Not bad for a first attempt? I don't know--it seems pretty ridiculous to me. And don't even ask about my 90-minute adventure changing the stem, a baffling enterprise caused by my screwing up the headset spacers. I finished that damn job in the dark last night.

Oh, the second aphorism?  

"Every time I wash my car, it rains!"

I sometimes use this sentence in my writing classes as an example of syntactic ambiguity: what "rains," exactly? The car?

Anyhow, the bike is built, tuned, and ready to ride:

But it's pouring rain right now. No, not the bike. Bikes can't rain. But whatever "it" is-- it's raining.

A true Belgian hard man would take the new bike out, weather be damned.

I guess I'm not that hard.

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